A lot of people want to be good at golf, but to any avid golfer its pretty clear that almost nobody is. This is even further illustrated by the fact that only 1% of all golfers will play a round at even par or better in their lifetime. So why do so many flock to an expensive game at which they are for all intents and purposes guaranteed to be terrible at? I say because we like a challenge. Others might say masochism. But I bet your asking yourself what would statistics say? Well, as it turns out statistics either can’t (or won’t) answer that question. What statistics did say was that if we showed her some data from a lot of golfers then she could maybe give us some insight about why everyone sucks. Who knew statistics were so rude? Anyhow, the message clearly got passed along the grapevine and there were a few guys in Australia at Drekin University that got super interested in why people aren’t good at golf. And let me say they were pretty convinced they had it all figured out too. They hypothesized that swing speed (how fast you normally swing any given golf club while hitting a ball) and handicap (the most commonly used indicator of golf skill) would be highly correlated. “That’s not a bad guess and this is actually really important to the world so here’s some money to test that” said the University and so they tested their hypothesis.
They measured the club head speed of 45 golfers aged 18-80 who self-reported handicap indexes ranged from 2-27. What they discovered in the data was a visually striking correlation between club head speed and handicap. Fantastic they said. Now we just need to fit a model to this data and we can accurately predict how much someone will suck at golf. Sure enough linear regression was used to determine that indeed club head speed and handicap were significantly correlated (r=0.950). In my opinion it is pretty surprising that such a simplistic readout like swing speed would be so highly correlated with the complex (and infuriating) process of getting a golf ball off the tee box and to its home (the hole) 18 times. For one, the metric of swing speed